Anime: Paranoia Agent: Volume 1 (UMD)

Chimaera

Paranoia Agent is unconventional anime – there are no robots, big guns, and kids with pink hair and flying dragons. In fact, we are placed in a very modern and realistic setting. In the first episode we are thrown right into the action – Tsukiko is a toy designer who is stuck trying to follow up her smash hit toy Maromi. She is attacked by an elementary school aged youngster wearing gold skates and carrying a dented baseball club. Although the detectives are skeptical, once another attack takes place, they can’t ignore there is a very real problem going on. The media quickly dubs the assailant the “Shounen Bat”, or more common in English, “L’il Slugger”.

There are unexplained characters drifting around the entire story, but are they red herrings or actually important? Although things seem a bit strange once Maromi (the pink dog) starts talking, the weirdness gets kicked up a notch to a whole new level of unusual – although it seems pretty clear that only Tsukiko Sagi can hear her creation – for now. In the second episode, Taira Yuuichi clearly has delusions of grandeur, which causes him to suffer immensely as his skill in baseball and possession of gold skates cause rumors to circulate that he is the “L’il Slugger”. This is badly timed since the school elections cause him to believe a recent transfer student that is also running for class president is responsible for the smear campaign. Yuuichi’s paranoia and confusion go spiraling through the episode until the end leaves you with an “oh, that was weird” impression – and wanting more. Is Shounen Bat real? He must be. The attacks are real; the characters aren’t lying in a hospital suffering from imaginary wounds. But who is he, and what does he have in common with each of these victims, if anything?

Shounen Bat (L’il Slugger) is going through victims one by one – and by the end of the second episode, three victims are already hit with each attack appearing to get progressively worse. The series tends to ask a lot more questions than have been effectively answered.

Technical/Extras
This series is masterfully drawn and detailed, the extra trailers are nicely chosen, the dubbing is sufficient, and the acting isn’t over the top. Good to watch.

Rating: 7

Entertainment
Paranoia Agent is fascinating, multi-layered, and deep – which makes this series well worth watching. The only downside – people may find the plot a bit too slow moving for their tastes. The episodes are mostly self contained so far, with each episode introducing us to a new situation and new characters.

Rating: 8

Overall

This series has mystery, horror, and psychological thriller written all over it and upon reading, is limited to thirteen episodes. It’s bizarre and a touch creepy in places, but it has a deep story, blended expertly with bits of subtle bits of social commentary.

Rating: 8

Features: Quick start instructions for the PSP.

Episodes:
1 – Enter L’il Slugger
2 – The Golden Shoes

Extras: Trailers of Doki Doki School Hours, Gankutsuou, Starship Operators, J2, Ghost Talker’s Daydream, Petite Cossette, Bottle Fairy, Samurai Champloo

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